Before I met the School for Designing a Society, I was clear that Gesundheit’s staff would be happy, funny, loving, cooperative and creative. There were many studies that confirmed these qualities as fundamental to being “healthy”.

84440950713_0_ALBWhen I met the School, I added another quality: thoughtful. To my knowledge there are no studies showing the healing value of thinking—but there should be. Nor do I think there are many schools that foster a journey towards exercising one’s thinking as one would exercise one’s body—and there should be. School for Designing a Society is one such school.

At the core of the sluggishness that prevents the kind of social change we need now, is stupidity. Manufacturing stupidity (thoughtlessness) is a super social control mechanism to keep things as they are. The thoughtfulness I mean is that way of thinking that immediately says, “Whoa! Things are really unhealthy for everyone in this society. How can I help? What can I do? What can we come up with? Let’s figure it out!”

I did a lot of thinking about Gesundheit before I met members of SDaS, but when I met them and continuously exchanged ideas with them, that exchange opened many doors (thoughts) useful for everything I was doing. For years SDaS teacher Susan Parenti sat in my lectures, listened to every talk I gave and then questioned what I said and how I said it, proposing other ways to convey my intent. There was no pushing a particular way things should be said or thought, but rather an inquiry into ‘what do you want?’ and then ‘how can we design it’? Often we disagreed, and that would open a doorway to a lot more depth and breadth in our thinking that tickled us both.

bdmt_MedicalElective-3484I’ve wondered for years how to do a workshop on thinking? SdaS has been that workshop for me and has made me a lot more thoughtful and clear. Think of it as a vacation in thinking. Thinking has been the motor, the clarity, the holding steady, the every deepening lustful pursuit of Gesundheit.

For years Gesundheit’s mission has revolved around healing and clowning; with the School for Designing a Society that mission has expanded to include teaching. As Gesundheit’s hospital is to function as a model for the world, we needed a systematic presentation of the concepts and criteria that have guided our work. SDaS has designed a curriculum that articulates those. When our hospital is built, we don’t want it to be imitated (as in franchising), but rather we want it to be an influence and input into the fantasies and designs of other health care dreamers. The curriculum SDaS offers encourages influence without imitation.

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Members of SDaS designed and now teach these programs that form the core of our educational work:

  1. Month long summer sessions in West Virginia, semester long sessions in Illinois, teaching desire and design(1993 to present).
  2. 5-day health justice gatherings in West Virginia (2004 to present).
  3. Week long “Thinking Outside the Box” health care delivery systems conference (2005-2011).
  4. Month long “Construct Your Humanism” medical student elective (2008 to present).
  5. Week long ‘Clowning and Caring’ in Costa Rica and in Ecuador (2010 to present)
  6. Film project, health care in all the wrong places made by Susan Parenti and members of the
School for Designing a Society.

I don’t think I’d still be working on the Gesundheit project had I not been a student of the School for Designing a Society.patch-signature

Patch Adams MD & Gesundheit Institute, P.O. Box 307, Urbana, IL 61803

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